No Ordinary Time, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, by Doris Kearns Goodwin ISBN 9780671642402
Five out of five stars
Kearns Goodwin once again demonstrates that she is one of the top historians, writing both professional and popular history. This book is a combination of both. Eleanor Roosevelt completely altered the role of the First Lady, from one of being White House hostess and staying politely in the background to engaging in a high level of activism.
Yet, as Kearns Goodwin demonstrates, a great deal of that frenetic pace was due to her insecurities and strained relationship with her husband. Franklin Roosevelt became president at a time of great economic and political stress and guided the country through nearly all of its involvement in the Second World War. With so much at stake, there was a great deal of strain and Eleanor often pressed him to act on her causes when he really needed some basic down time. Franklin’s solution was to seek out other close female companionship, women that he could relax with and drop the strain of the office. Eleanor also sought out other close companions, hers were of both genders.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s activism extended through the entire spectrum of social causes, from the rights of labor unions, to providing child care for women working in defense industries to expanding the opportunities for Negroes in society. Her legacy cuts a wide swath, yet first and foremost, her pressure on Franklin led to the first actions of what became the Civil Rights Movement.
Two people that often had to be apart, yet fundamentally needed each other, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt had an extremely complex relationship that worked for them and the country. Despite all the great personal strains in their relationship and the upheaval in the country, the two of them were able to manage the country and drive the change for the better. Kearns Goodwin describes them very well, how they worked together, often battled and how their relationship with their children factored in as well.